The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District tables Dry Gulch Reservoir Project for another day, another board

September 13, 2012

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From the Pagosa Sun (Lindsey Bright):

During Tuesday’s Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation board of director’s meeting, with both directors Mike Church and Roy Vega excused, the board unanimously passed a motion to send a letter, “requesting substantial completion” to the Colorado Water Conservation Board regarding their $11. 2 million loan, of which only $9.2 million has been drawn and used.

The letter will be sent to Kirk Russell, CWCB’s finance section chief, who had recently told PAWSD that he needed a letter of intent and direction by Sept. 18 to present to the CWCB board.

PAWSD Business Manager Shellie Peterson will write the letter to inform the CWCB board that PAWSD does not, with the current board, intend on building Dry Gulch Reservoir and they will not be drawing the remainder of the loan out. The PAWSD board used $9.2 million of the CWCB loan, along with the San Juan Water Conservancy District’s $1 million CWCB grant, to purchase the Running Iron Ranch in 2007 as a reservoir site. Prior to this letter, there had been discussion by previous PAWSD boards considering use of the rest of the funds to buy a small portion of the adjacent Laverty property in order to have enough land to build the reservoir.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.


Pagosa Water and Sanitation scores a $2 million loan for wastewater pipeline

September 7, 2012

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From the Pagosa Sun (Ed Fincher):

Phil Starks, of the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District, reported to town council the approval of a $2 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for a project that would allow sewage to be pumped from downtown Pagosa Springs to the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District’s Vista treatment plant, enabling the clean-up of the old sewage lagoon site near Yamaguchi Park…

Although Stark reported success in getting a vote of approval from the water authority, he went on to say, “We have to still do a lot of paperwork. One thing is getting the legal opinion of Mr. Cole (town attorney Bob Cole).” Another is getting the approval of town council, but the sewer line project is still moving forward…

Ken Charles, from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which, along with the state water authority, had a say in whether or not to approve the loan, said, “When I took that proposal back and it had changed from a wastewater treatment plant to this pipeline project, everyone said this was a completely different project and we should ask them to re-apply to the program. I just told them this is a prudent decision in all sorts of ways. You’re saving money in the long run, and you’re avoiding another discharge point into the river. It was a win-win situation, and you let your staff work out the details.”

More wastewater coverage here and here.


Report on the Pagosa Springs Area geothermal resources suggests that potential is more extensive than previously identified

July 8, 2012

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Here’s the abstract from the report:

Pagosa Springs, Colorado is famous for the hydrothermal activity in its groundwater system, though the system is poorly understood. At present, the hot water flow is used for both tourism and the heating of some buildings, but further expansion of the springs’ usage could reduce the effective energy produced in both cases. To better understand the nature and extent of the hydrothermal flow, several geophysical methods were designed and implemented, including: Gravity, magnetics, electromagnetics, seismic, Direct Current (DC) resistivity, and ground penetrating radar (GPR), all of which were tied in with global positioning system (GPS) data. The surveys were designed to determine the structural geology, the locations of water sources, and the direction and magnitude of that flow. These geophysical surveys were employed to give students a better understanding of geophysical methods as well as assisting Pagosa Springs in learning more about the complexion of the springs so as to better utilize the hydrothermal energy without damaging, and hopefully improving, the existing infrastructures.

The data of the geophysical methods was processed, interpreted and integrated by students to attain a plausible explanation of the results and the geothermal system the results describe. At the Stevens Airport and the Barn 3, a survey site far to the south of town, it was shown that the Eightmile Mesa Fault, as well as nearby faults, likely penetrate into the basement geology which could provide a conduit for deep hot water transport. At another site three kilometers south of Pagosa where there were geothermal springs cooler than the Pagosa springs, the data entertains the possibility that there is water flowing from the ridge to the east toward the river to the west. The data also shows that there is likely a fault to the east of the Pagosa Mother Spring. The Pagosa Mother Spring is the main spring in the town that was measured to be at least 1,000 feet deep. Closer to the Mother Spring, on the field southwest and east of the river, the flow of water in the subsurface near the spring was surveyed. Two conduits were expressed in the data: one running east-west and the other going north-south. Finally, one line indicated the possibility of two additional faults north of Pagosa, though further investigation is necessary to better define these results. These integrations can be used to sum up a plausible explanation of the hydrothermal system, however, there are several studies that could still be done in this area to better understand the hydrothermal system as well as hopefully improve the current geothermal usage in Pagosa.

From the Pagosa Sun (Jim McQuiggin):

Earlier this month, the Colorado School of Mines Geophysics Department (CSM) released results of research recently conducted throughout the area. After spending two weeks in Pagosa Country this past May, studying characteristics of the area’s geothermal aquifer, a team of CSM students and faculty members provided a lengthy report on findings during that visit.

The full report can be downloaded at http://geophysics.mines.edu/GEO-Field-Camp.

While not quite as exciting as the almost certain discovery of the Higgs boson that was announced on Tuesday, the report provided some interesting suggestions regarding geothermal resources in the area. Primary among the findings was a suggestion of geothermal resources far more extensive than had been previously postulated.

That report indicated the discovery of three previously unknown faults north, south and west of the “Mother” spring (the Great Pagosa Hot Springs that provides water for local bathers and heating systems).

“First, the seismic results from both the Stevens Airport and the Barn 3 (south of town) line show that the Eightmile Mesa Fault, and possibly other faults nearby, penetrates the basement material,” the report reads. This discovery shows that faults in the area can penetrate the basement (several layers of strified rock that sit atop the water) and provide a conduit for deep and hot water transport.

More geothermal coverage here and here.


Pagosa Springs: The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership scores $25,000 for greenhouse project

April 22, 2012

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Elaine Feeney Wood):

The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Laura Jane Musser Fund to contribute to the implementation of the greenhouse initiative in Centennial Park. The Musser Foundation encourages the collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities to strengthen their towns in civic areas including economic development, arts and humanities, public space improvement and education…

The GGP aims to:
1) create a center for lifelong education as well as for advanced study in agriculture and renewable technology;
2) provide a test site for the commercialization of year-round organic crops at high altitude using renewable energy;
3) provide affordable, organic, locally grown food for people and businesses; and
4) provide year-round community gardens.

The greenhouse domes will be built in Centennial Park on the banks of the San Juan River. This park will invite locals and visitors alike to pause, enjoy the natural setting, pursue environmental education, experience sustainable agriculture, and appreciate renewable energy technologies.

More geothermal coverage here and here.


Proposed MOU between the Archuleta County Board of Commissioners and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District scrapped by county

March 6, 2011

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From the Pagosa Sun (Randi Pierce):

Commissioner John Ranson expressed that, while he was disappointed that the time and effort given to the MoU did not pay off, he believes the withdrawal of the agreement was the right move. “I think it’s exactly the right thing they should have done,” Bunch said in a Wednesday interview. “It gets things back on the basis it should have been on since day one … We are two separate managerial agencies that need to take care of our business.”

A rift between the BoCC and PAWSD began in the fall of 2009, when the BoCC began requesting financial documents from PAWSD, expressing concerns over PAWSD’s spending, Dry Gulch Reservoir assumptions, service plan and more. The rift then deepened last March, when the BoCC began requesting that PAWSD provide the county with an annual report.

The two boards met in a public meeting in March 2010, where the idea of an agreement or memorandum of understanding between the two boards was mentioned by PAWSD Attorney Jim Collins.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.


The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District hires Edwin Winton as their new director

February 25, 2011

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From the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District via the Pagosa Daily Post:

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors are pleased to announce the hiring of Mr. Edwin (Ed) Winton to fill the position of District Manager. Mr. Winton was selected from a group of four well qualified finalists. His career history includes extensive experience not only in the water/wastewater utility field, but also in management. He will be relocating from Topeka, Kansas, and is expected to assume his new post with PAWSD on approximately March 14, 2011.

The PAWSD Board believes Mr. Winton will be a positive addition to our staff, the District and the community we serve. We look forward to his arrival.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.


Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District board meeting recap

February 19, 2011

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From the Pagosa Daily Post (Bill Hudson):

The meeting began with a thoughtful and well-researched presentation by former Pagosa Post magazine editor Glenn Walsh, about the possible future of the [Water Resource Fee] — still under moratorium until April 1. Using input from the Water Supply Community Work Group (WSCWG), Mr. Walsh proposed at least three possible approaches to the WRF, including eliminating it entirely.

The WRF — a new fee charged against all new construction projects in the PAWSD district — was created in 2006 as, supposedly, the primary funding mechanism for a proposed 35,000 acre-foot reservoir in the Dry Gulch valley. As the Archuleta County construction industry began fading into a mere ghost of its former self, starting in 2007, the construction and real estate industries began pointing an accusing finger at the WRF and other PAWSD fees on new construction as one of the culprits in that decline.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here.


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